TV Review: ‘Lost in Space’ – Series Premiere

Netflix unveil their update of an old sci-fi classic…

Spoiler-free review

 

Lost in Space 1-01

Danger for Will Robinson? Netflix deliver an exciting update of Irwin Allen’s ‘Lost in Space’

Starring:  Molly Parker, Toby Stephens, Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall, Maxwell Jenkins, Parker Posey

Series developed by:  Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (Lost in Space created by Irwin Allen)

Written by:  Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless / Episode directed by:  Neil Marshall

What’s it about?

Stranded on an alien world, the Robinson family are thrust into a desperate struggle for survival and discover that they may not be alone…

Episode review

Netflix hit the mark again with another lavishly produced and compulsively watchable original series as the streaming giant launches their update of the cult classic television series, Lost in Space.  Originally running for three seasons between 1965 and 1968, Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space was of its time presenting family-friendly comic book sci-fi adventure stories on a far lighter and more simplistic level than Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek.  That’s not to say that the original Lost in Space isn’t without its charm and can still be viewed as a nostalgic guilty pleasure but in the age of sophisticated drama and blockbuster spectacle television viewers have become accustomed to, any new version of the series would need to be representative of modern times.

Developed by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (Gods of Egypt) and sticking to Irwin Allen’s basic premise of the ‘Space Family Robinson’, the Netflix reboot of Lost in Space sees the Robinson family – Dad John (Toby Stephens – Die Another Day), Mum Maureen (Molly Parker – House of Cards) and children Judy (Taylor Russell), Penny (Mina Sundwall) and Will (Maxwell Jenkins) – crash land on an unknown alien planet following the destruction of their mother ship, carrying human colonists in search of a new home.  Forced to think on their feet in a desperate attempt to survive, the events of this first episode (aptly titled “Impact”) are filled with drama, crisis and fantastic visuals that’s sure to keep viewers hooked throughout the ten episodes comprising season 1.

What’s immediately evident is that the tone of the series is more mature and a little bit darker than the 1960s Lost in Space and indeed the 1998 feature film.  It’s certainly not bleak to the point of ‘grim’ but there’s a palpable sense of danger and a fairly realistic approach to how the Robinson family face their unexpected predicament.  It’s also of benefit to the characters that, here, the Robinson unit is more grounded and dysfunctional than the picture-perfect family of the original series, there are disagreements between parents John and Maureen, Judy and Penny bicker at times and Will, though a genius, has doubts and insecurities just like any real world 11 year old.  Despite some interpersonal tension, there is an underlying current of hope – and heart – as the Robinsons find a way to work things out together.  It certainly helps that the casting is solid (bolstered by good writing), Stephens and Parker are the typically strong leads but there’s much to be said of the talents of Taylor Russell, Mina Sundwall and in particular, Maxwell Jenkins whose believable portrayal of Will is a highlight.

Another masterstroke is the use of flashbacks that gently fill in the back story, from the catastrophic event that decimates the habitability of Earth and the subsequent initiation of the colony mission to the complications in the lives of John, Maureen and their children.  Just enough information is provided in episode 1 to offer a decent enough grasp on the essentials but it seems likely that the flashbacks will continue during the course of the season.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Lost in Space without the iconic robot and the 2018 version is a great twist on the original and a nifty element of ambiguity that comes with young Will’s companion (check out the episode to find out more).  Whilst there’s only a fleeting introduction of Dr. Smith (as well as Ignacio Serricchio’s Don West), Parker Posey (Superman Returns) makes an instant impression of a potentially more complex iteration of the character first played by Jonathan Harris (and Gary Oldman in the 1998 film).  It all adds up to a positive start for a promising series.

The bottom line:  With Lost in Space, Netflix deliver another binge-worthy original series with an epic reboot of an old favourite.

All ten episodes of Lost in Space season 1 are available to stream now on Netflix.

15 thoughts on “TV Review: ‘Lost in Space’ – Series Premiere

  1. To me, the original show was the stuff of lazy Sunday mornings. I’ll always love it for that reason. Your review has sold this repackaging to me. I like what you say about the younger performers – that’s encouraging. I’m always game for some sci-fi like this, so it’s heartening to know one of the most respected bloggers I know rates it. Thanks for the heads up, Chris.

  2. Terrific thoughts here. This is a worthier reimagining of the concept than the 1998 film remake. The only issue with this version of Lost in Space is Dr. Smith, there is something missing from this version. Not as funny as Harris or evil as Oldman, but the show is a good adventure.

    • Thanks! I’m only a couple of episodes in but it’s one I’m likely to blast through quicker than most other streaming shows (I tend not to be a binge-watcher). It’s just great to have another quality SF series to enjoy whilst waiting for season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery.

  3. I’ve honestly not heard many good things about the show and have been hesitant to even try the pilot episode, but your own take on it definitely convinced me that it is worth testing out. It does look like a lot of effort has been put into modernizing it and based on the trailer I saw way back then, it did look beautiful! Awesome review as always sir! 😀

  4. Hi Chris, I got around to watching it last night. Very much enjoyed that first episode. Lots of tension right from the start. I enjoyed the problem solving aspect of the show and you were spot on right about the dynamic between the younger actors. Looking forward to seeing what comes next and getting a bit more depth. Might sneak an episode in tonight after my mammoth day at work. We have to rewards ourselves.

      • Even more enthused, knowing you’ve seen the whole thing and want more. The moment where one of the girls is swimming and the water is freezing before our eyes – I’ve never seen that done before. Great moment! Small thing, but also like the orange-blue space suits and the overall design. Looks cool.

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